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Wexler Films


From microscopes to telescopes, he gave countless young students and adults their first glimpse of the scientific and natural world, increasing our understanding of how the human body, and our environment function. In a small modest Hollywood studio a remarkable filmmaker produced a wide range of films about science, biology, chemistry, physics, medicine and nutrition. Few knew his name, but countless students saw his films and opened their eyes to a new way of seeing the world.

Sy Wexler made 850 films shown in classrooms that changed the way we understood the world around, and within us. Sy was a master teacher who could take a complex subject and explain it simply. He started with a well written script. He shot film and illustrated it with brilliant animation. Attracting Hollywood’s most talented artists to draw and paint and animate lessons from medicine to marriage, hygiene to hydropower. After seeing Sy’s films we never saw the world the same way.

In the 1956 film Pipes in the House he showed the inter workings of a city infrastructure along with the aspirations of a new modern generation. In 1958 Sy showed us in Circulation of the Blood, the intricacies of our cardiovascular system. His use of in-hospital cameras, artistic animation, scanning electron microscopes and other innovative filmmaking techniques gave us a broader understanding and appreciation of the unseen. As the 16 mm projector clicked away, Sy took us places we never went before, and showed us new and wondrous sights.

In 1964 Sy collaborated with the extraordinarily talented and celebrated designers Elaine and Saul Bass on two films produced for the New York World’s Fair, which attracted over fifty-one million visitors. In 1976, the year the first Apple personal computer was introduced, the film The Human Brain was a worldwide sensation using newly perfected computer animation to detail the structures within the brain as never before visualized.

We know of men with vision and perseverance that changed the world….. Thomas Edison, Andrew Carnegie, Walt Disney, Steve Jobs. Another man who also changed the world was a 16 mm filmmaker. We’ve seen his films, and now we know his name. Sy Wexler 1916- 2005.

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I remember being in the front seat of the family car when we took an afternoon ride from Hollywood to Sylmar and photographed some of the highway shots in this film, My dad had had a cine special or Arri S rigged to the front bumper and I controlled the on off switch from inside the car, sitting between my folks, with brother David in the back seat. No seatbelts at the time. Highway 5, near the end of the San Fernando valley by the cascading water viaduct.
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